MINELRES: Hungary: Minority News, January - April 2009

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Mon Jun 29 09:00:41 2009

Original sender: Nikolett Okosi <Nikolett.Okosi@meh.gov.hu>

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Selection of news on national and ethnic minorities in Hungary
January-April 2009

Legal regulations on minority rights at 15

A yearly hearing of Peter Kiss, minister responsible for national and
ethnic minorities was held at the meeting of the Committee on Human
Rights, Minorities, Civil and Religious Matters of the Parliament in
February 2009. The minister informed the members of the parliamentary
committee on the parliamentary representation of minorities and the
public support for minority self-governments. He emphasised that the
15-year old legal regulations proved to be useful and effective.

The minister informed the Committee that the support to be given to
minorities will increase to a small degree in the 2009 budget. The
task-based financial support of minority self-governments was introduced
in 2008 and 80% of the minority self-governments handed in valid
applications both in the previous year and in this year.

Calls of the Prime Minister's Office for minority policy supports for
the year of 2009

The State Secretariat for Minority and National Policy of the Prime
Minister's Office published the announcements pertinent to the budgetary
support 2009 concerning national and ethnic minorities living in

The State Secretariat wishes to enhance and extend the institutional
system related to the cultural autonomy of minorities. The support
wishes to serve the development and operation of cultural, educational
and scientific institutions founded independently by the minority
self-governments or jointly with other organisations or taken over for

The State Secretariat has announced the applications concerning
coordination and intervention minority funds. The funds primarily can be
used for overcoming the operational disturbance of minority non-profit
organisations, institutions and minority self-governments. In some
special cases support can be provided on the budget for partly financing
of those programmes of high importance in terms of minority policy and
projects that cannot be financed by any other funds.

Minority educational, cultural and scientific institutions, minority
self-governments, minority civil organisations, those self-governments,
institutions, foundations and public foundations fulfilling minority
related tasks and religious organisations can hand in applications for
gaining coordination and intervention minority funds. 


Romanian president met with the representatives of Romanians living in

On his official visit to Hungary, Traian Basescu president of Romania
met with representatives of Romanians living in Hungary in Gyula/Giula
(the center of Romanians in Hungary) in February 2009. Klara Perjesi,
mayor of municipality greeted him in Romanian language. Traian Basescu
expressed his support in connection with the statute of the Romanian
orthodox bishop (Andrei Saguna) to be set up in Gyula.

In Gyula, he met bishop Siluan, head of the Hungarian Orthodox Romanian
Church who emphasised that the main task of the church was the unity of
the local Romanian community and to preserve their mother tongue,
culture and traditions.

Kreszta Trajan, president of the National Self-Government of Romanians
in Hungary asked the Romanian president to follow with attention the
usage of the EU support (amounting to 260 million Euros) appropriated
for Hungarian-Romanian transfrontier cooperation as the majority of
Romanians in Hungary live along the frontier.
Bedides his visit to Gyula, Traian Basescu conducted several high-level
negotiations in Budapest. He met with Hungarian dignitaries: President
Laszlo Solyom, Katalin Szili speaker of the Parliament and Prime
Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany. 

With regard to the unresolved parliamentary representation of minorities
living in Hungary, the Romanian president pointed out that the
representation of minorities could be accomplished on different kinds of
ways in Europe. He stated that there was no disagreement between Hungary
and Romania on the issue of national minorities. According to the
Romanian president the leaders of Hungary and Romania have come to the
conclusion that both countries have solved the issue of national
minorities with taking the realities into consideration. The standards
applied by both countries are correct and respect the rights of national

Meeting of the Hungarian and Slovak foreign ministers

A meeting between Hungarian foreign minister Kinga Goncz and her Slovak
counterpart Miroslav Lajcak was held in Pozsony/Bratislava on the
occasion of the first award ceremony for neighbourliness and
understanding. The award, given to Rudolf Chmel literary scholar and
writer, former ambassador to Hungary of Slovakia is part of the two
countries' effort to improve their relations on the basis of the 14
points agreed upon by the prime ministers in 2007. The prize is awarded
jointly by the two ministries of foreign affairs to a Slovakian or
Hungarian person and a settlement or an institution who and that does
most for the improvement of the relations between the two countries.


European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) released its
fourth country report on Hungary

The ECRI released its fourth country report on Hungary on 24 February,
2009. In the fourth monitoring cycle the report examines the
implementation of ECRI's former recommendations, the former policy of
Hungary and the developments experienced since the adoption of the last

The ECRI stressed that positive steps had been made in the field of the
fight against discrimination and intolerance, but at the same time ECRI
gave full details about further concerns.

ECRI stated that several measures had been made within the field of the
enforcement of the rights of national and ethnic minorities in the
previous 5 years in Hungary pointing out the modifications related to
the minority act, the adoption of the Strategic Plan of the Decade of
Roma Inclusion as well as the activity of the Equal Treatment Authority.
Nevertheless, the report welcomes the efforts made in order to improve
the situation of disadvantaged persons (including the integration of
Roma people) and refugees. Growing racism and xenophobia cause anxiety
just like the disadvantages experienced by Roma people in every field of
life. In connection with migrants and refugees who meet difficulties in
the field of housing and employment, negative stereotypes are typical.

The aim of the country reports is to provide practical and detailed
proposals for the governments of member states to tackle the problems
that are presented in their countries. After two years of the announced
reports the follow-up process starts. The ECRI's country-specific
monitoring activity treats every state on equal basis. This work is done
in every five year concerning 9 countries out of 10. The forth round of
the monitoring activity pertaining to the countries of the Council of
Europe has started in January 2008 and will be ended in December 2012.

The report is available from ECRI's website in English, French and


Minority self-governments in the boards of trustees of public service

The National Radio and Television Commission have drawn which minority
self-governments could delegate a member for one year into the board of
trustees of the 3 public service mediums.

It was decided that the National Croatian Self-Government could delegate
one person to the social supervision of the Hungarian Radio while the
National Polish Minority Self-Government could send one person to the
Board of Trustees of the Public Foundation of the Hungarian Television
and to the Board of Trustees of the Public Foundation of Hungaria


ARCUSFEST - Hungarian programme of the Year of Creativity and Innovation

The nationality theatre festival was organised on the 7th occasion for
one week between February and March by the Public Foundation for
National and Ethnic Minorities in Budapest.

ARCUSFEST enriches the programme series of the European Year of
Creativity and Innovation announced by the EU. This year's festival put
emphasis on those performances that built upon the creativity of
students and youth and involved non-professional actors. This way, the
aim was to encourage the recruitment of nationality theatres.

18 nationality theatres participated at the festival with 18
performances. The performances were delivered in 10 nationality
languages (Bulgarian, Greek, Croatian, Polish, German, Romanian,
Serbian, Slovak, Slovene and Ukrainian). Subtitles, interpretations and
printed synopses were provided but several Roma plays were delivered in
Hungarian and partly in Romani language. The performances were evaluated
by a 5-member committee who decided upon the awards.

The festival was mainly financed by the Public Foundation for National
and Ethnic Minorities but it was supported by the Ministry of Culture
and Education as well.

The festival's aim is to stimulate, advocate and develop mother-tongue
nationality theatrical acting, to promote their contact-building with
the Hungarian and international theatrical profession.

ARCUSFEST gives opportunity for nationality theatres to present
themselves not only in front of their own minority public but a wider
public as well. The main message of the festival, as its slogan
"Languages in the languages of the theatre" showed, was that the
endangered minority cultures, languages and nationality theatres who
represent them had inherent innovative power and carried traditional
values also for the majority and meant contact for Hungary to the
kin-states and to other EU countries. ARCUSFEST sends the message of the
values of diversity, interethnicity, dialogue, communication, openness
and cooperation. The name of the festival refers to the
multi-colouredness of the rainbow and the aesthetic value of its unity
(arcus means rainbow in Latin). The first nationality theatre festival
was organised with the participation of 4 nationalities (Croats,
Germans, Roma and Serbs) in Budapest in 1993.

You can find more details about the ARCUSFEST on the website of the
festival (www.arcusfest.hu).

Exhibition on the cultural heritage of Greeks in Hungary

An exhibition presenting the cultural, spiritual, religious and material
heritage of the Greek minority in Hungary was opened in April in

At the exhibition more than 250 works of art were displayed: icons,
goldsmith's and ecclesiological works, graphics, book curiosities,
letters and paintings etc. Those public buildings and monuments were
exhibited at the exhibition that could be built with relevant financial
contribution by Greeks.

Several buildings of the monumental heritage of Budapest can be
connected to rich Greek families. They supported the construction of the
Chain Bridge and the foundation of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences


Meeting of the Hungarian and Slovak evangelical church leaders in

The whole bishopric staff of the Slovak Evangelical Church took part in
a two-day visit in Hungary fulfilling the invitation of the Hungarian
Evangelical Church in February 2009. That was the first occasion when
the evangelical leaders of the two countries met in such a high-level

Assuring mother-tongue church service to Slovaks in Hungary and to
Hungarians in Slovakia, the financing system of the churches operating
in the two countries as well as the relationship between the state and
the church were on the agenda of the negotiations.

The issues of the inter-denomination dialogue were discussed at the
meeting and the founding of a Slovak-Hungarian historian committee that
evaluates the history of the two nations in the 19th-20th centuries was

Celebration of the Day of German minority self-governments in Hungary 

The National Self-Governments of Germans in Hungary organised a
celebration on the occasion of the anniversary of the foundation of
minority self-governments in Budapest, in January 2009.

The Hungarian Prime Minister's Office and the parliamentary secretary of
the German Federal Ministry of the Interior were presented at the event.
Awards were handed over to those having done outstanding activity for
the community's cultural life.

In Hungary, there are 379 German local minority self-governments while
on regional level there are 11 bodies. 

Anniversary feast at Slovaks in Hungary

The 60th anniversary feast of the foundation of the Alliance of Slovaks
in Hungary was organised in Budapest, in January 2009. Ferenc Gemesi,
state secretary responsible for minority and national policy of the
Hungarian Prime Minister's Office and Dusan Caplovic deputy of the
Slovak prime minister took part in the event.

Roma trainee scholarship has started in the capital city of Hungary

Roma trainee scholarship has been launched in January 2009 with the
support of the self- government of the municipality of Budapest and the
Norwegian Financial Mechanism. The scholarship's aim is to help educated
Roma youngsters to take up their career in the public sphere. In the
course of the project, 35 Roma youngsters will be given the chance to
get professional experiences in the system of institutions of the
self-government of Budapest.

The programme lasts through 6 months. The trainees can get acquaintance
with their profession in practice. They will get working experience on
those services that could be organised among the rules of the pubic
administration, so they could help Roma people to get better access to
public administration. Trainings and personal coaching will help them in
the course of the project. The trainees are selected by a 4-member
expert committee.

Roma persons who were under the age of 55, got their school-leaving
certificate or a degree after 2006, and starting out or restarting their
career could apply for the scholarship. The participants could work for
one of the institutions of the self-government of Budapest for 6 months
from May.

The role of minority youth organisations in the cultural life of

A workshop was held on the role of youth and youth organisations in the
cultural and public life of minority communities in April 2009 in

The aim of the consultation was to promote efficient operation of
minority youth organisations, to stimulate them to organize community
life and to advocate their initiations. 

At the meeting, Greek, Croatian, German and Slovak youth organisations
reported on their activity and their possibilities to join the cultural
life of their community. The participants agreed upon that regular
consultations would be held for minority youth in order to strengthen
their participation in public life of minorities in the

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